Friday, November 7, 2008

Halloween Princesses

Other than my mannish arm/hand that ended up being the focal point of this photo, I thought we all looked pretty good here on the set of High School Musical a la Melaleuca. Every year Melaleuca decorates the building and lets the kids come trick-or-treating. It's a big deal, and each department has a different theme. The sales department chose High School Musical as their theme this year, and Mac landed the role of Ryan. They even learned songs and dances to perform for the big day, and I captured some of it on camera. It was a hoot! Plus, they won the Best Overall Award for their decorations and performances, so they get to enjoy a pizza party here soon. We couldn't have pulled off his costume, though, without our friend Kim, who was so so kind to sew the Es on Mac's hat and letterman's sweater. I'm hopelessly inept at sewing and all things crafty, as most of my friends know, so I was extremely grateful for the help. The girls got a lot of candy, and I'm still helping them eat it a week later. Here are some more pictures of them in their Old Navy costumes.

On Halloween, we drove to Boise and went trick or treating with my brother Mike and his wife, Brandi, my sister Jenny, her husband, Woodson, and their two kids, Matthew and Nicole, and my sister Aimee. My parents were there too. My siblings and I were running a race the next morning, so that is why we were all together in Boise. We took the kids to my uncle Gordon's neighborhood to go trick-or-treating. The neighborhood was very festive and enthusiastic about Halloween. One house had a haunted porch for older kids to go through, and one neighbor was dressed as a 70's dj with a sound system playing outside. He was offering drinks for all the adults who came by. I think it might have been an alcohol drink, so we didn't try any, but we thought it was nice of him anyway. Another neighbor told us that last year, they had 500 kids come trick-or-treating. Wow! Last year, I think we had ONE trick-or-treater come to our house. The weather was great - so warm! The kids didn't even have to wear coats. Kate kept saying, "Okay, this is the last house." I guess she just wanted to go home and get started on the candy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Applesauce, Peaches, & Squash, Oh My!

Aren't they pretty? I'm very proud of these lovelies, the result of my first attempt at canning. (These aren't all of the jars I canned - the rest are in my pantry and food storage. These ones are just the lucky few that got to pose for the picture.) The pink stuff on the left is applesauce - my girls love that it's pink. And it tastes great. Thanks, Penny, for teaching me to can! I'd like to say that I'm now a canning fool, but until I get all my own equipment, I'll still be kind of slow to do this on my own. But, as luck might have it, I think Mac is going to get me canning equipment for Christmas. We will just have to cross our fingers and see. I'm really excited about the applesauce. Not just because it's pink, but because I picked the apples myself, for free. It was actually kind of a scary experience. I was dangerously perched atop a VERY tall ladder to get at the best apples, the lower ones having been picked already. I kept having the scene from Pollyana flash in my mind - you know, the one where her hand is reaching for that perfect apple, and suddenly she's screaming and falling, and later we find out she's paralyzed! Well, that scene kept coming to mind as well as the grief my poor husband and girls would experience at losing me if I were to fall, because don't we all at times like to imagine what would happen and how our loved ones would react if we were to pass on unexpectedly and tragically? And believe me, if I had fallen, I would have died. The ladder was THAT tall. Happily, I survived and lived to make this wonderful applesauce, along with some apple butter that isn't pictured, but I didn't bother to can that, I just froze it. Now, you're probably thinking I forgot about the squash part of my title. No, it's coming. Check out this photo:

My friend Kim was kind enough to share with me a spaghetti squash from her garden. I had never had spaghetti squash before, but I was excited to try. So I cooked it according to her instructions, scraped out one half of the squash, tossed it with butter and parmesan, and sat down to scarf almost all of it down. We had enough for leftovers, well, enough for me to have leftovers, the next day. And then I was thinking about what I should do with the other half I had left, so I decided to make baby food with it. I scraped out all the flesh, tossed it in my blender, added a smidgon of water, and presto - I had this perfect, store-bought-looking puree perfect for Lilly. I half-filled old baby food jars I had saved and popped them in the freezer. Since then, I've done carrots (also donated from a friend's lovely garden), and I plan on using some of my lovely canned peaches and applesauce as well. I love all the money I'm saving, so if any of you are wondering what to do with all your leftover winter squash and vegetables, now you know that you can make baby food with it.

While I'm on the topic of squash, I have to pass on a recipe for you. I made this dish the other night, and I thought it was so exotic and decadent. If you like squash, you've gotta try it out. I've only recently discovered that I like squash, since I never had it while I was growing up. (Don't worry mom, I forgive you!) But it is spectacular! I feel the same way about zucchini and sweet potatoes, food I never had the privilege of sampling as a child but now couldn't live without. Here's an awesome zucchini recipe if you're tired of making zucchini bread all the time.

Well, I've finally exhausted my thoughts on squash and canning. Who would've thought my longest post so far would be about food, and NOT my children or family? Well, if you know me, it's probably not that much of a surprise.